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Camp Merritt Flu Memorial.

563 Flu Victims Died Here

Field review by the editors.

Cresskill, New Jersey

What's now the town of Cresskill was once Camp Merritt, the largest embarkation base in the U.S. during World War I. It was a depot for troops headed for France, and a terrible place to be when a deadly flu virus arrived in October 1918. By the time it had run its course, 563 men and women in Camp Merritt had died.

The camp burned down after the war, but in 1924 a 65-foot-tall obelisk made of pink granite was erected as a memorial. It's engraved with the names of all 563 victims, and an inscription, "In memory of those soldiers who gave their lives for their country while on duty in Camp Merritt." There's no mention anywhere how they died -- not on a battlefield, but rather from intense, close combat with a pandemic virus that caused young and fit immune systems to fatally overreact.

At the base of the obelisk, flat on the ground, is a carved map of all of the camp buildings and streets, a crude version of what you might find today at an upscale theme park. It shows that you're standing right at the center, probably the deadliest spot.

Camp Merritt Flu Memorial.

563 Flu Victims Died Here

Knickerbocker Rd, Cresskill, NJ
In the traffic circle at the intersection of Madison Ave. and Knickerbocker Rd.
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